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  • The Demise of Job Boards and the Rise of People Searching

    We’re all familiar with the term “job board.” In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of job boards in existence.  Some you may know about and others you may never know about.  You’ve obviously heard of Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com and Yahoo! Hotjobs because they are large brands, with large news distribution partners (Careerbuilder has CNN and Monster has the New York Times for example).  These sites have been around forever and contain millions of resumes combined, with thousands of “job openings” each day.  Then there are vertical job search engines that locate and aggregate jobs from job boards, such as Indeed.com.  Finally, there are niche job boards for various industries and professions, such as TalentZoo.com for marketing professionals.

    Right now, if you’re unemployed, you are spending hours on job boards desperately searching for a job in your industry or one that will help you pay the bills this month.  The unemployment rate is now 8.9% in the US, which means we’re inching closer to one in every ten Americans being jobless.  Since there are millions of job seekers, job boards are home to piles of resumes that will never even be looked at.  I believe job boards will cease to exist in the future because there models are outdated and because social technologies have transformed the recruitment process forever.   As the joker says in The Dark Knight movie “there’s no going back.”

    The research tells all

    Many of you might be in HR related fields or have deemed job boards as sacred sites that have helped you for a decade or two. You might have even gotten your previous job from a job board.  After reading an article about a woman who sent her resume to 1,700 jobs, with only 13 interviews and no job offers, I felt the need to dig up some research to illustrate my prediction more clearly to you.  First, let’s start with a quote from a very well-known author in the career field, Richard Bolles.

    “For every 1,470 resumes, there’s 1 job offer made and accepted” – Richard Bolles, bestselling author, What Color is Your Parachute?

    Clearly, resumes aren’t the sole factor in the recruitment process anymore, like they were decades ago.  A good resume is no longer enough and job boards aren’t great places to submit your resume either, especially with the amount of job seekers using them now.  Next, Monster.com announced that it was shutting down MonsterTrak.com, which was their job board dedicated to entry-level jobs and internships, which I had even used during college (and had no success!).  Also, you might have heard that the large job boards, just like most companies now, are laying off a good percentage of their staff because companies aren’t hiring, which means they aren’t posting jobs.

    In 2008, only 12% of jobs came from job boards. When I give presentations, I typically state that 88% of jobs aren’t sourced through job boards because it seems like a bigger number.  The fact is that job boards will rarely work in your favor because people hire people and not resumes.

    The fall of job searching and the rise of people searching

    So far, I’ve stated that job boards won’t exist and I’ve backed up my claims with research and indicators that are telling of the entire recruitment industry.  Now, I’m going to tell you that job searching is “old school” terminology that refers to applying for jobs that are listed somewhere, such as a job board or corporate website.  The new way to look at a job search is a “people search,” which I’ve stated a few times in the past.  A “people search” means that you name the top companies you want to work for and find people who are employed at those companies.  Then, you network with them, form a strong relationship and they perform the job search for you.  Social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) put everyone on the same plane and give you access to employees that can get you jobs.

    Remember that employees have access to internal job boards, which tell them who the hiring manager is and if the job is actually available.  Companies give employees access to internal job boards because they want to retain them and give them opportunities at various levels and departments in the company (saves them money too).  If you have a relationship with an employee, they can tap this job board, email or call the hiring manager and connect you directly or at least send them your resume.  In fact, this means that there’s no reason for you to go on a job board or corporate site looking for a job ever again (if you’re smart).

    What you need to do right now if you’re looking for a job

    1.  Discover your brand

    Don’t be stuck in your career by neglecting your personal brand.  Instead, work as hard as you can to figure out what you want to do in life.  Think about what you want to be known for and how you will position yourself online and offline in order to achieve your goals and dreams.  Ask yourself “what niche do I want to own”?  By discovering your brand, you have a much better chance of landing in a job that will make you happy.

    2.  Build up your brand presence

    If you’re searching for a job and don’t have a brand presence, then it will be very hard to stand out.  You can start with a blog, or profiles on social networks or both.  You should claim your Google profile also.  The key here is to have a consistent online identity that reflects the brand you discovered in step 1.  The outcome will be more places where you can advertise your brand and direct recruiters or members of your network to more information about what you have to offer.

    3.  Name the top 3-5 companies you want to work for

    Many of you are asking “but what if I don’t know what type of company I want to work for.”  My answer is that you better start thinking about it right now or you’ll waste your time.  Most companies are concerned about you fitting into their corporate culture, not just if you have a stellar resume.  By choosing the top companies you want to work for, you’ll be able to come off more genuinely in interviews with hiring managers and you’ll be able to put in the necessary work to actually get a job there (passion rules).

    4.  Conduct a people search to find employees who work at those companies

    Once you’ve selected the companies you actually want to work for, use social networks (industry networks, vertical networks and the top social networks) in order to locate employees that can help you.  When finding the right employees, look for their status in the company (job title), how many years they’ve worked there for and what type of job they’re in.  Use an excel spreadsheet to take note of their name, email address, social network profiles, etc.

    5.  Interact with their content and become part of their community

    Don’t rush in and become their spam, as easy as it might appear.  Remember that the economy is really poor, so employees are used to receiving resumes all over the place.  To stand out you need to be seen as someone who gives value (related to your expertise) and someone who cares enough to comment on their blog, retweet something on Twitter, etc.  Become part of their community for a few weeks or even a few months first before begging for a job.

    6.  Make direct contact with them

    Once they know who you are, you can try and talk to them directly.  Don’t get discouraged!  For instance, on Twitter, if they follow you back, you can direct message them (DM for short), which allows you to be more personal.  On Facebook, you can message them or send them an email.  If they don’t respond to you after a week, send a follow-up message.  If that doesn’t work, then find someone else in the company and repeat this process.

    7.  Participate in an informational interview

    Now that you made initial contact with them, it’s time to start a conversation that will hopefully lead to an interview and a brand new job!  A lot of career counselors back in college told me about “information interviews” and today I think it’s a requirement if you’re serious about working for a company.  When you tell a manager that you’re interested in the company and what they do there, they get to talk about themselves, which they enjoy.  In response, many of them will give you time on the phone or in person, depending on where you live, and tell you everything you need to know to make a better decision.  If you impress them, they may go out of their way to help you get a job there.

    8.  Ask to see if there are any current openings in your field

    After the interview interview, follow-up with them with a nice note thanking them for their time, and summarizing what you learned about the company.  Then, ask them if they can see if there are any job openings in your field.  Again, if they like you and think you can add a lot to their company, they will probably help you.  It could be because they want to or because they get money from referrals (part of the company policy).

    9.  Submit your resume

    They may ask you for your resume or you might have to send them your resume, depending on how the conversation flows. Your resume shouldn’t be an ordinary resume if you want to be taken seriously and distinguish yourself from others.  What you should do is to use one or two URL’s and put them on your resume.  One could be your blog and the other could be your video resume with a custom address (yournameresume.com).  Also, you’ll want to add some design elements in your resume and move all your experience and results to the top because people have short attention spans.

    10.  Repeat this process

    Never give up.  People will ignore your emails.  Instead of getting caught up in “rejection,” you should just try and connect to the next employee, until you break through.  This dedication will help you cross the bridge from job searcher to employee over time.

    Are you hungry for a single resource that will give you all the information you need in order to build a successful brand that you can feel proud of?  

    Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 09) is the bestselling career book that will help you command your career and create your future, using social media tools.  It will take you through a proven process that will explain how you can discover, create, communicate and maintain your own personal brand throughout the course of your life.  With rave reviews from 34 successful business people, such as Daniel Pink, John Quelch, Marshall Goldsmith and Gary Vaynerchuk and media mentions from the The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Fast Company, The New York Times and many others, what are you waiting for!   You don’t want to be the 100,000th person to read this book.  Read it now to gain a competitive advantage in your industry and achieve your dreams.


    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Job Search, Networking, Personal Branding, Recruitment, Social Media, Success Strategies
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    28 comments on “The Demise of Job Boards and the Rise of People Searching
    1. avatar

      Dan, you say: “I’ve backed up my claims with research and indicators”.

      But what have you really said? That any job posted on a board is going to get a lot of applicants. Common sense for certain jobs.

      But, the real question is: How many suitable applicants apply? Speaking from experience, it’s not always a lot.

      Then you present us with an alternative.

      Take a few weeks to build a strong relationship with a stranger so you can exploit him. And he’s going to let you. Some nice guys might help you.

      But you claimed to have supplied research to support your ideas about job boards. So why not do the same here – or acknowledge that the results of this method are as of yet, undocumented.

      • avatar
        Dan Schawbel says:

        Research states that job boards are losing money and are starting to shut down. Employers are finding new ways to post and fill jobs using social media websites. The alternative is clear: don’t bother looking at jobs that might not exist and instead, find people that can help you.

    2. avatar
      Adam Green says:

      Dan, you have laid out a good plan for job seekers reaching out, but you should also recommend that people create a system that delivers actionable intelligence as part of that outreach. If you create a set of Google Alerts on the companies you are targeting as part of your job search, you will have plenty of opportunities to show off your expertise. I’ve written up the details on my blog, but here is the basic idea. You can create a search for each company you are tracking along with the keywords that describe your personal focus. When you receive an alert that shows the company is working on a new product or has a new marketing program related to those keywords, you can contact the people you are focusing on with advice or encouragement. It shows you are tied into the industry and have “insider” awareness of current events. It’s much better than randomly sending chatty emails or DMs.

    3. avatar

      Dan, my experience echoes much of your post, but with a few exceptions.

      First, most of the major job boards are useless for any candidate who is not an obvious home run candidate…F500 brand name employers, Div. I university, MBA. A good recruiter will find you if you’re that good. For example, TheLadders.com bills itself as most exclusive, yet I’ve spoken to companies posting VP Marketing positions there who tell me they get more than 1,500 applications per position.

      Second, your point #3 “Name the top 3-5 companies you want to work for” works if you want to work for a major name company, but is difficult to execute if you’re looking for a startup or early-stage company that is still in stealth mode or isn’t widely known yet. For example, I specialize in building Marketing for emerging companies or organizations in transition, and making them into leaders.

      Last, I recommend this search approach — http://tinyurl.com/rxac4b — anyone who wants to take control of their job search process. Waiting for jobs to find you doesn’t work. Waiting for recruiters or companies to call back doesn’t work.

      Good and timely post.

      • avatar
        Dan Schawbel says:

        Mark, thanks for the great addition of content to this post. I agree with you that this post was focused more on people who want to work for a big company.

    4. avatar


      Great post. Great advice to job seekers. Couple things I see daily from the employer side. Many corporations do not have the talent or bandwidth that is needed to recruit via “people search”. I agree that this should be the first step in their recruiting plan. Step 1, assess internal talent and process…problem…many small and large HR departments are not ready, willing, or able to embrace the people search method…it doesn’t fit in their “metrics” plan. I could go on and on here…my point? Job Boards (LinkedIN now can be associated with job boards with their job postings) are not going away, they will become secondary and they money thrown their way will shrink. My advice to job seekers, utilize every tool available to you, you don’t know who is doing the recruiting….

      If a company is hiring a 500 people and makes 12% of its hires via job board (60 people, yes I’m a math whiz)…. And you pay lets say $50k for a job board (post and source) amounts to $833 per hire (not including recruiters time). Seems post and pray plays a part in the recruitment echo system.

      Agree the future is People Search; meanwhile we must live in the present and plan for the future..

      • avatar
        Dan Schawbel says:

        Dina, great commentary. This post is supposed to prepare people today for the future. It’s also another method for getting a job in this bad economy.

    5. avatar
      Rebecca says:

      Dan, you could write a whole other book on this topic! The demise of traditional job searching and careers and the rise of new ways to do business. Love this post. I truly believe that building relationships is the quickest way to success and the faster people realize this (and take your tips), the quicker they will benefit.

    6. avatar

      Dan –

      Very good post, the stats are shocking. I agree that job boards are a downward trend and that candidates really need to have other ways to find opportunities, just submitting your resume is not going to get you the job.

      Best –

    7. avatar
      Valerie says:

      What would you recommend when you have asked for informational interviews and get no reply? I have contacted several people at two companies I would love to work for and have gotten no reply for either company. I clearly stated I was only interested in informational interviews.

    8. avatar


      You really hit the nail on the head with this one. I just graduated from an MBA program at a lesser known school. 188 out of 200 people don’t have jobs and some probably haven’t even made any effort. I somehow managed to get 3 interviews within the last week, all for jobs that I would love. And it was all from networking, except for one, which resulted from my campaign at http://www.100reasonsyoushouldhireme.com.

      I just wrote a blog post about how to get more connected today and noted the fact that custom social networks on Ning, and meetup.com make networking not easier today than it has ever been.

    9. avatar
      Thejobsguy says:

      This post is right on the money! I tweeted it twice because I wanted to make sure my tweeple saw it, read it, and shared it. Thanks Dan

    10. avatar
      Tim Schoch says:

      It’s a good action plan. But the biggest hurtle is building quality social networking presences, which most people cannot do. They aren’t designers, are bad or not efficient writers, and don’t know what to say online. This isn’t just chit-chatting to make friends. It’s effective conversation with an agenda. It’s subtle sales. It’s about being liked and provoking interest in yourself in others.

      Communication with a purpose is the toughest thing for most people, even executives. Directionless conversation, no matter how affable, will not generate leads.

      So as you search for a job, keep questioning your actions: How will this conversation/logo/photo/contact lead me to a new job?

      Great site, thank you!

    11. avatar
      Jennifer says:

      Right on! To effectively communicate Your Message in 2009 you have to share it a whole new way, and if you feel you can’t go it alone, work with a Career Coach or a career development professional (if currently attending or recently graduating from college).
      Take control of your destiny and make it happen! ~Jennifer

    12. avatar
      Dave says:

      Hi Dan,

      Very interesting stuff! We currently provide online resume technology (and other career tools) to 600 career centers, mostly colleges and universities. We’re releasing new technology next month, Optimal 2.0, to help users create web resumes that integrate traditional elements with social networking efforts. Many career centers are still job-board focused, and I think our new technology is going to be instrumental in helping them make this transition.


    13. avatar
      Jessie says:

      Dan – I think the Wall Street Journal used some of your material in an article they write on the topic of resume overload – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204475004574126832685403014.html

    14. avatar
      cwcomment says:

      The internet has really made the world a smaller place. And all of these social networking tools actually make the process easier. Just stat by connecting with the people you know- if your friends dont know anyone whos hiring theyll know someone who is!

    15. avatar
      Chris Perry says:

      I don’t believe that job boards will completely disappear, but I do believe that the job board as we know it will change in the coming years. Research has shown that more and more of the recruitment advertising is moving to niche job boards as opposed to the Big 3 general job search engines due to the effectiveness associated with a higher degree of content focus.

      More sites like Indeed and SimplyHired that aggregate jobs from all across these different sites may appear, and new sites like LinkUp that actually aggregate jobs directly from the corporate websites, opening up the hidden job market will also be more useful. You may see more reverse job boards or professional networks where active job seekers post their availability/interests to be “searched” by employers and recruiters.

      There will always be more candidates and job seekers than there will be jobs in a specific company, industry, functional area etc. and so, while people searching may grow, it will not be the only effective method for employers and recruiters to identify top talent.

    16. avatar
      Billy says:

      I don’t think job boards are going away anytime soon! They will adapt & morph into something similar but different.
      Through social networking: I’ve researched and made contact with 5 different opportunities via Linkedin and phone calls.
      1.) Not enough quantifiable experience.
      2.) “I know you can do this job, but I don’t think you’ll find it stimulating”
      3. 4. 5.) Go to our website and send a resume.

      I would love to here more testimonials from job seekers and employeers alike on the proven steps through social media on actually landing. What worked and what didn’t. I appriciate advice but I would love to hear about specific EXAMPLES.

    17. avatar
      lewAdmide says:

      In this economy I was concerned that it would be difficult to find a job in my field. Many websites promised to have a large database of employers but rarely delivered. When I found Hound I was given direct access to employers rather than having to go through a recruiter.

    18. avatar
      Lorraine says:

      Here here! I’ve been ranting about this for quite a while. The concept of the big boards is dead…I strongly recommend to my readers to avoid the job boards and use them only as a search tool — this is, see who’s hiring and conduct research outside of the boards.

      This is a great article — I’m going to link it to my site.

      Check out my rant: “What Do Job Boards And T-Rex Have In Common?” — we’re on the same page on this topic. http://undergroundjobnetwork.com/?p=1372

    19. avatar
      NK says:

      A very insightful article indeed. It is specially interesting to find that your views map very closely to what we are currently trying to achieve.

      There is no denying the fact that networking is playing an increasingly important role while searching for job in today’s fiercely competitive world and shrinking job market. And social media has come forth as a potential tool in building an effective network. But there is still some gap in the way today’s social media platforms/sites look towards the end-goal. On one hand, where professional social networks (linkedin, xing) give more emphasis on ‘Business Networking’, the other less formal ones (facebook and orkut) are more geared towards personal and lifestyle based connections.

      However, there is still a gap between the two where the sole emphasis can be put on collaborative job-search, and tools to enhance your professional profile, ways to effectively reach potential recruiter and make a mark by effectively leveraging the true power of social/professional networking. We are a bunch of young entreprenuers, from social media background, currently working on these lines and hoping to patch up the gap. I’ll be eager to know your views on this.

    20. avatar
      TJensen says:

      There is obviously a lot to know about this. There are some good points here.

    21. avatar
      hemen parekh says:

      Customization of resume is an art that does not come easily to every jobseeker.
      Then there is a science of customization which converts a plain text resume into
      8 graphs, online / automatically / instantly.
      If the main goal of a resume is to capture the attention of the recruiters and it’s
      secondary goal is to motivate the recruiters to read it long enough to interpret the
      jobseeker’s story, then you will appreciate what http://www.CustomizeResume.com can
      do for your career.
      To impress the recruiters, what you need is a graphical / visual / analytical presentation.
      Hemen parekh
      Mumbai – India

    22. avatar
      Matt says:

      Idea is good but here is the problem. I have a friend hiring manager who is complaining now that everyone is trying to network with him on facebook & linkedin. And it’s back to the same problem. 90% of the people trying to network directly aren’t qualified but people desperate for jobs. And all the people joining these sites are again the people who are under qualified or too over qualified. There is still no good way to attribute a position to the right candidate. Recruiters don’t do a good either. For a software programmer position I was hiring I was sent sets of 5 resumes at a time to choose 3 for interviews. We ended up interviewing 15 people because none were qualified enough (resumes were faked up) and in the end we just outsourced the position to India because we got fed up with this dragged on process. We got an over qualified person there who was willing to work for half the rate and got our job done in 75% of the project time.

    23. avatar

      LinkedIn is reapidly becoming the premier job search site even though it is not a traditional job search blog like Dice.com and Monster.com

      The interesting thin is that more employers / recruiters are using LinkedIn as a Job Search / Recruitment site … which I think threatens the business model of Dice.com and Monster

    24. avatar

      Guess what? They aren’t dead. Not even close.

    25. avatar
      James Dunne says:

      I have to agree with Rayanne, they’re not even close to being dead. And, guess what? They never will be, they’re a staple of job searching and recruitment. The value of the big Job Boards and Niche Job Boards especially, is exponentially greater than social media or networking the way you present it. Matt is correct about networking – it’s become almost moot. Networking is only one piece of the puzzle, all of the smart candidates are using Job Boards – especially niche one’s. Linkedin has roughly 300 million users – a great number of them do not log in frequently, what do you say to that? On social media, let’s not forget, people can portray a false image of themselves and get away with it for a little while – it’s a greater risk for people to lie on their resumes that they put up on a Job Board. To me as an employer, a job board is the way to go, the first place to look for qualifies candidates – then I’ll look at anything else.

      Your take on Job Boards is not an equitable representation of the values to both the employer and job seeker. If a job seeker followed this advice they’d be left last in line.

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